As the family continue to arrive – Tom and Annie have now joined us – the ancient board games are resurrected from the cupboards where they have lain. I don’t remember ever having played many of these with them; I’m told they used to play them while they were waiting for me to come home from church. By general consent we play a game of Articulate.

It’s maybe very non-PC of us to play Men vs. Women. But it yields some fascinating and instructive dynamics. Try as the “describers” might to give clues that their fellow team members alone might guess, in the open round it is very often their spouse who is first to guess, giving a point to the other side.

But the mental kinship also works between father and son. In the crucial deciding question, Tom says, “I’m one of these.” Scientist? Graduate? Yuppie? Rugby fan? Geek? “And Einstein was one.”

“Genius!” I guess triumphantly and correctly. Amidst a chorus of protest from the losing Women, that he had lied, cheated, etc. I reflect that when I was Tom’s age, or younger, I used to tell myself that I was a genius, too. One of the hardest doses of reality as you grow up, is coming to terms with the fact that you ain’t any such thing, mate.

Meanwhile we learn that Christmas is prime time for viruses as they get transported round the country and introduced to whole new cities and regions. We’ve done our bit for the viral ecology too, by sharing the various bugs and germs around – like most other families of the diaspora.

Strong winds in the night blow the empty church hall bins down the street. Now that Oxford has gone over to its wonderful new recycling scheme, with green wheelie bins and blue and green recycling boxes, all the old dustbins are redundant and standing empty and idle as an Evangelical’s surplice. It’s a profound metaphysical question: How do you throw away a dustbin?

2 thoughts on “Mindreading

  1. Articulate is an essential feature of Christmas here…but Hattie Gandhi and I are banned from being on the same team as the men of the family insist that we actually have but the one brain between us. This may seem harsh, but there are times…
    However my favourite memory comes from the year we were given the game and the “people” category repeatedly baffled my much-younger children, with the wonderful result that Virginia Wade has gone down in the annals as…well…another word invovling V-g-n-a Wade. Poor woman, she’ll never recover!
    Do hope nobody has felt too rough and that the family reunion continues joyfully.

  2. As to the dustbin question, it clearly belongs in the same category as those in a stocking-book Hugger acquired “if you try to fail and you succeed, which have you done?”.
    Sorry. Will leave you in peace now!

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